The world of supplementation can feel like a confusing place at times. It’s easy to find a wealth of conflicting advice, possibly skewed studies and ‘fake news’ when searching the web for reliable advice.
Thankfully, SnowSunSee is here to help. We’ve combined scientific research, industry knowledge and personal experience to compile a list of the most noteworthy supplements for skiing.
Every supplement we have listed has the ability to boost your performance, protect your body and improve your recovery. The compounds included all have the backing of scientific study and positive results.
Ranking Our Top 5 Supplements For Skiing
Why do skiers need to take supplements?
Skiing is an action sport that is inherently hard on the body. Extreme muscular and cardiovascular exertion can take its toll. Without ingesting the correct nutrients, it’s easy to fall shy of peak performance.
However, skiing isn’t just challenging for your muscles. Your joints and ligaments will also take a pounding. It’s a known fact that skiing is particularly hard on the knees, with joint degeneration and ligament damage being far too common.
The pillars of maintaining physical fitness and a healthy diet are great ways to ensure you can perform on the slopes. But if you’re looking for that extra boost that can catapult you from ‘good’ to optimal; you might just need to invest in supplements.
Taking the right supplements can improve your energy, hasten your recovery and help stave off injury. By taking the correct compounds, you also have a great chance of protecting your joint health and skiing well into your latter years.
What key benefits should skiers look for in a supplement?
Skiing poses a wide range of physical challenges. It’s impossible to find one supplement that will cover every requirement, so you need to find a blend of compounds that cover all bases.
Any supplement you purchase should be targeted to improve one of these key metrics:
- Bone and Joint Health. In our opinion, this should be your top priority. Skiing is incredibly taxing on your joints and can have serious long-term implications. Supplementation could be crucial if you want to extend the lifespan of your cartilage so you can ski into retirement and beyond.
- Muscle recovery. Spending 6 hours per day on the snow is sure to break down some muscle fibers. Being able to recover and rebuild quickly is vital if you want to perform at your best on consecutive days and stave off muscular fatigue.
- Energy Maintenance. If skiing isn’t tiring, you’re not doing it right. Spending prolonged periods on the slopes can leave you needing nap-time if you’re becoming deficient in certain micronutrients. Taking the right supplements can make sure you’re not depleting your energy stores throughout the season.
- General Wellbeing. Spending time on the slopes can often lead to poor dietary decisions and nutritional neglect. Making sure you’re consuming the right vitamins and minerals will make sure you’re functioning at full potential.
- Cognitive Function. It’s easy to forget that skiing is also a mental sport. It requires serious concentration to nail your best turns every time you start sliding. Feeling the effects of brain fog could result poor decisions that may lead to injury. However, taking supplements can make all the difference.
Every product we have listed is clinically proven to move the needle in at least one of these key metrics. Whether you require supplementation to achieve each of these nutritional goals is based on your personal lifestyle choices.
However, if you’re falling short in any of these areas, ingesting the right supplements could be a game changer.
Analyzing The Best Supplements For Skiing
- Category: Bone and Joint Health
- Claimed Benefits: Relieves joint pain, prevents bone loss, improves skin elasticity, strengthens hair and nails
- Pros: Wide range of potential benefits, great anecdotal evidence
- Cons: Limited scientific proof, difficult to find a reliable product, expensive
- Recommended Products: NOW Supplements UC-II, California Gold Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen Peptides
Collagen is the most commonly found protein in the human body. It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and skin.
It’s often thought of as the glue that holds your body together. Without collagen, we might just crumble.
Taking collagen as a supplement has grown in popularity over the last decade. Many beauty seekers have been taking it for their skin health, but skiers have also seen great results.
Supplementing with Type I or II collagen has been shown to improve joint pain in athletes. It can provide the raw materials your body needs to repair and rebuild that all important knee cartilage that tends to get worn down over years of skiing.
Collagen supplements are usually created from the connective tissue of animals (sorry veggies & vegans!). Skiers should be looking for marine or poultry based products to get the best results, since they have the highest quantities of Type I and II collagen.
- Category: Bone and Joint Health
- Claimed Benefits: Reduced joint pain, reduced inflammation, improved bone health
- Pros: Easy to obtain, cheap, backed by national medical organizations
- Cons: Science is still lacking for most benefits, contradicting evidence
- Recommended Products: Doctor’s Best Glucosamine Sulfate, NOW Supplements Glucosamine 1000
Glucosamine is arguably the most well-known joint supplements on the market. It’s approved by various European medical associations, including the UK’s NHS, for use as a medicinal substance to treat osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine is naturally produced by your body and is predominantly found in your cartilage. It helps to create the proteins and fats required to repair damaged cartilage, which makes it a superb compound to improve the joint health of skiers.
Since glucosamine is rarely found in foods, it has become an incredibly popular supplement. However, despite the rise in enthusiasm, scientific studies into the effectiveness of glucosamine have been polarizing.
One large US based study found that supplementation had no impact on knee pain over the course of 6 weeks. In contrast, several European studies found that participants reported improved knee health and function after taking glucosamine.
Despite the contradicting results, glucosamine remains one of the most viable compounds on the market to protect the cartilage of skiers. It’s widely available in capsule form and relatively inexpensive. For these reasons alone, it’s definitely worth considering.
- Category: Bone and Joint Health
- Claimed Benefits: Anti-inflammatory, joint pain relief, heart disease protection
- Pros: Great range of benefits, constant new research showing promising results
- Cons: Supplements can be expensive, joint benefits unproven as a preventative measure
- Recommended Products: Life Extension Curcumin Elite, Sports Research C3 Complex
Curcumin is widely known as the ingredient that gives turmeric spice its bright orange color. Despite being used in India for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, its significant health benefits have only recently become apparent to the wider community recently.
Recent studies have shown that curcumin supplementation has significant anti-inflammatory effects. Not only is this great for overall health, but can also provide significant pain relief for those suffering from knee pain.
Although studies are yet to be conducted showing prevention of joint degeneration in healthy skiers, the already proven benefits lead us to suggest that it could be largely beneficial.
Since curcumin is found in turmeric, it can easily be used during cooking applications. However, the optimal dosage required to see beneficial effects is often much higher than you would usually use when cooking.
Curcumin supplements have become increasingly common and easy to obtain. By providing around 500mg per capsule, they are a convenient way to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your turmeric buck. However, it’s worth noting that products often come at high prices, leading many people to opt for dietary intervention as opposed to supplementation.
- Category: Bone and Joint Health
- Claimed Benefits: Reduced joint pain, improved joint function, anti-inflammatory.
- Pros: Promising study results, inexpensive, widely available.
- Cons: Unproven as a protective measure, inconclusive studies on most benefits.
- Recommended Products: NOW Supplements Chondroitin Sulfate, Doctor’s Best Hyaluronic Acid + Chondroitin Sulfate with BioCell Collagen
Chondroitin is another compound that is found in cartilage. It’s seen as a fundamental building block for the cartilage in your joints that tends to break down after spending time on skis.
Supplementing with chondroitin has been proven to reduce joint pain. In fact, one 2017 study found that daily supplementation significantly lowered joint pain in osteoarthritis patients over the course of 6 months. However, it’s use has been controversial after a number of alternate studies came back with no evidence of any significant benefits.
The majority of chondroitin supplements are produced from animal sources; most notably cow cartilage. It is possible to up your intake by eating animal gristle and connective tissue, but you would need to eat a substantial amount to get the amount required to see maximum benefit.
The similarities between chondroitin and glucosamine have led to them frequently being paired together in supplement products. It’s generally taken in capsule form and can easily be found for a reasonable price.
- Category: Bone and Joint Health
- Claimed Benefits: Reduced joint pain, anti-inflammatory, faster muscle recovery, tendinitis relief
- Pros: Wide range of claimed benefits, good evidence for joint support, easy to source, cheap
- Cons: Most health benefits are unproven, proven benefits only show ‘moderate’ improvement
- Recommended Products: Jarrow Formulas MSM, Doctor’s Best MSM Powder with OptiMSM
Methylsulfonylmethane, commonly known as ‘MSM’, is a dietary supplement that has a wide range of potential health benefits. It’s a sulfur-containing compound that is commonly found in plants and animals, although a supplement is recommended to get the optimal dosage.
Despite having a plethora of uses, MSM is predominantly taken for joint pain. Studies have shown that regular supplementation can significantly reduce inflammation in the body and inhibit the breakdown of cartilage.
Although these studies looking at delayed joint degeneration show promise; they have mostly been performed on animals and are yet to be replicated in humans. Another benefit of interest to skiers is MSM’s ability to improve exercise recovery, which has been proven in a small scale study. However, a larger trial is required to see reliable evidence.
Since it is impossible to extract MSM from plants, it is synthetically produced to make supplements. It most commonly comes in capsule or powder form and is one of the most cost effective bone and joint supplements on the market.
- Category: Muscle Recovery
- Claimed Benefits: Decrease muscle soreness, increase muscle growth, reduce exercise fatigue, improved exercise focus
- Pros: Safe with minimal side effects, substantial amount of positive studies
- Cons: Many poor quality products on the market, fairly expensive
- Recommended Products: Xtend Original BCAA Powder, California Gold BCAA Ajipure
Branch Chain Amino Acids, commonly known as ‘BCAAs’, are essential proteins found in the human body. The ‘branched chain’ consists of three specific acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. It’s a molecular that’s essential for muscle repair and growth.
The amount of studies backing the effectiveness of BCAAs are plentiful. One study showed that participants who consumed BCAAs post workout had an increase in muscle protein synthesis, which is a crucial part of muscle growth.
Multiple studies have also shown BCAAs to be effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and improved mental focus during exercise. Both of these benefits are incredibly beneficial to skiers, given the physical and mental toll it can take on your body with limited time to rest and recover.
However, as with most supplements, not every study has been so positive. A 2017 review of multiple studies concluded that many of the claimed benefits of BCAA supplementation are ‘unwarranted’.
It must be noted that a BCAA supplement represents just 3 of the 9 essential amino acids that must be obtained through diet. It should not be considered a dietary replacement, with evidence showing it works best alongside a diet rich in high-quality proteins.
Once search online will bring up a multitude of BCAA products available for purchase. Most come in powder form, but can be relatively expensive.
In addition, many contain harmful sweeteners or chemicals, while others have been labelled a ‘sham’ by well-known health professionals. Be sure to do ample brand research and read the label carefully before purchasing.
- Category: Muscle Recovery
- Claimed Benefits: Improved muscle gain, decreased muscle soreness, immune system support, intestinal health
- Pros: Strong studies around immune function
- Cons: Disappointing results from muscle gain studies, not much ‘bang for your buck’
- Recommended Products: Now Supplements L-Glutamine, Thorne Research L-Glutamine Powder
L-Glutamine is another amino acid that plays a vital role in. It is an essential building block for proteins and can be naturally produced in your body, but there are often times that your body cannot keep up with its own glutamine demands.
It is possible to find L-glutamine in a variety of foods; including eggs, beef and tofu. Finding high-quality sources of each of these foods is a great way to improve your intake and see performance related benefits. However, skiers that are struggling to build enough of these foods into their diet may consider supplementation.
The positive effects that L-Glutamine has on your immune system in the event of injury have been well researched and backed by fairly reliable studies. As have its beneficial effects on intestinal health.
However, studies looking at its claimed athletic benefits have been much less promising. In fact, multiple studies have shown L-Glutamine has no effect on muscular strength. Although one study has shown slightly improved leg muscle recovery, the overall evidence that it can improve the performance attributes required by skiers is limited.
L-Glutamine comes in both powder and capsule form, with significant price variation between different brands. Despite limited evidence, it’s almost exclusively marketed as a ‘post-workout recovery’ supplement. As with all supplements, be sure to look for brand integrity if you choose to make a purchase.
Pre-workout supplements have been a long-time favorite of heavy-lifting gym fanatics. However, they have become increasingly popular with skiers looking for an instant energy fix that can power their day on the snow.
Each pre-workout supplement uses a different blend of compounds that are usually combined in powder form. The most common ingredients used include caffeine, amino acids, B vitamins and creatine among others.
The main component of many pre-workout supplements is caffeine, which has well-documented exercise benefits that can improve endurance and increase muscle strength. Many products also include nitric-oxide precursors that have been shown to potentially enhance athletic performance.
Analyzing pre-workout supplement efficacy and safety is almost impossible, given the wide variety of ingredients used in each product. However, it’s worth noting that many products contain extremely high amounts of caffeine, which can have a variety of negative side effects.
Some will argue that pre-workout supplements are completely unnecessary. Others will say that added energy brings them success on the slopes.
The key thing to keep in mind here is that you should not view this powder as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. If you’re already optimizing your nutrition, sleep and cognitive function through other methods; you should already have enough energy for peak performance on the snow.
- Category: Energy Maintenance
- Claimed Benefits: Boosted energy, support bone health, improved mood
- Pros: Proven to be an essential vitamin, superb evidence of its effectiveness, game-changing supplement for vegans
- Cons: No evidence it can boost energy if you’re not already deficient
- Recommended Products: Solgar Sublingual Vitamin B12, Life Extension Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin Lozenges
B12 is an essential vitamin that the human body needs but is not able to produce. Since it is found in animal products, deficiency is often thought of as a problem only for vegans. However, studies show that nearly 40% of people in the US don’t have sufficient levels.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with side effects including fatigue, weakness, dizziness and poor coordination. Each of these negative impacts can have a devastating impact on ski performance.
Vitamin B12 is abundant in many animal products, with the best sources being beef and lamb organ meats. It’s also found in more readily available cuts of red meat, as well as fish and poultry products. However, its lack of availability in plant products makes it a challenge for many to obtain through diet alone.
The evidence backing the importance of vitamin B12 supplementation is concrete. Studies showing its ability to improve energy in those that suffer with deficiency are well established. In addition, a variety of studies have shown that low B12 levels are associated with lower than normal bone mineral density.
Supplementing with vitamin B12 is relatively cheap and incredibly easy. It comes in capsule form, with some products labelled as ‘vitamin B complex’; which means they include other valuable compounds such as Thiamine, Riboflavin and Folate among others.
The important thing to focus on here is nutrition. If you have a diet that’s low in animal products, you most likely have a B12 deficiency that could be harming your energy on the slopes.
Vitamin D is often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ due to it being absorbed through the skin via sunlight. Despite sounding easy to obtain, it’s estimated that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient.
Despite skiers spending significant time outdoors, getting enough sunlight exposure can still be challenging. Ski clothing only allows a small amount of sun to reach your skin, making it difficult to absorb the required UV rays. In this instance, taking a supplement can be beneficial.
Since vitamin D plays a vital role in calcium regulation, it has a huge impact on bone health. Being deficient has been shown to significantly soften your bones, which could have serious consequences on the ski slope.
The immune support offered by vitamin D has also been well documented. In fact, studies show that it’s highly effective in protecting against respiratory infections.
Whether it’s COVID-19 or influenza you want to avoid this winter; vitamin D might be the key.
The risks of taking vitamin D supplements are minimal, while the rewards could be massive. It’s also one of the cheapest and most readily available compounds on this list.
- Category: General Wellbeing
- Claimed Benefits: Boost exercise performance, anti-inflammatory, sleep aid, improved metabolic health
- Pros: Substantial evidence of its many benefits, most people require supplementation
- Cons: Choosing the right product is confusing, some might get enough from diet alone
- Recommended Products: Life Extension Magnesium Caps, Thorne Research Magnesium Biglycinate
Magnesium is found in every cell in the human body. It’s a mineral that is required to complete a vast amount of chemical reactions that are continually being performed by your enzymes.
The positive evidence showing the importance of magnesium is striking. From its ability to fend off diabetes, to its positive impact on sleep quality, it seems like there’s nothing this vital mineral can’t do.
One key benefit that will excite skiers is magnesium’s effects on athletic output. In fact, multiple studies have shown that loading up on magnesium through supplementation can boost exercise performance.
Magnesium is readily available in a range of foods; including nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes and dark chocolate among others. However, it’s estimated that 68% of American adults fail to get enough of this vital mineral. Shocking statistics considering its importance.
It must be noted that purchasing magnesium isn’t always an easy task. At least 11 different types of exist in supplement form, with each one being best suited to improving a different health marker.
The recommended type of magnesium for skiing is usually ‘sulfate’, since it’s viewed as the best for muscle recovery. However, be sure to do your research into the different options available to find the list of benefits that work for you.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
- Category: General Wellbeing
- Claimed Benefits: Reduced inflammation, improved heart health, improved cognitive function, increased bone density
- Pros: Backed by a multitude of positive studies, wide range of benefits, required by most people
- Cons: Reliable sources can be hard to find, quality products can be expensive
- Recommended Products: NOW Supplements Ultra Omega-3, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
Fish oils are one of the most popular supplements due to their vast array of proven health benefits. It’s usually obtained from skin of fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel.
The benefit of omega-3 supplements are their fatty acid content. They provide the essential nutrients DHA and EPA, which are both vital in managing and preventing an array of health markers.
Multiple studies have proven fish oil’s ability to reduce inflammation. In some studies, this has been shown to reduce joint stiffness and tenderness; making it an ideal ‘ski specific’ supplement. In addition, the positive impact it has on brain function and heart health is well evidenced, among other benefits.
It’s often challenging for skiers to get sufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids with their diet. Fish is rarely viewed as a staple of the ‘ski resort diet’, meaning that many will find their performance hampered by this nutritional deficiency without supplementation.
Finding a suitable fish oil supplement isn’t always easy. Products vary greatly in the amount of DHA and EPA included within each capsule, while many companies have been caught providing ‘lesser quality’ oil or inaccurate labelling.
Despite the pitfalls with purchasing, fish oil supplementation remains one of the most viable ways to boost your overall health.
Thoughts From The Author
If you’re looking to improve your skiing performance through supplementation; you’re probably on the right path. However, it’s important to make sure you’re taking these compounds for the right reasons.
Many people view supplements as a way to negate the requirement for proper nutrition. Appropriate diet and lifestyle choices should always be your ‘go-to move’, with the products we have discussed being a sensible way to make up for shortcomings.
Making sure you’re not deficient in vital minerals and nutrients is fundamental. Although you might not feel like your cells are undernourished, you might be amazed by the results you see from adding a basic supplement.
It’s also important to remember that supplements are not a ‘quick fix’. I doubt you will find a miracle product that can cure all your ailments and drastically boost your ski performance with immediate effect.
However, a well-rounded approach to diet, fitness, lifestyle and supplementation can yield superb results in the long-term. Just remain patient.
Whether you’re an instructor or holidaymaker, it’s important to optimize your nutrition. Taking supplements are a great way to make sure you’re not suffering from deficiencies that could impact your time on the snow.
The supplements for skiing we have listed have attributes that make them ideal for life on the slopes. However, each skier will have their own individual needs, so taking a personalized approach is paramount.
Choosing the right products is never easy, so take the time to do some serious research before making any investment. Brand integrity and quality of compound are vital if you want to see positive effects from your purchase.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.